Column by State Rep. Joe Bellino
One of the hardest decisions my family ever made was placing my beloved mother into a nursing home, where we trust professionals to care for her and put her best interests first.
Up until this spring, when Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 lockdowns started, my family made regular visits. We understood why the lockdowns were needed early in the coronavirus pandemic and were willing to comply to keep everyone’s loved ones safe.
What we do not understand is why Gov. Whitmer put our mom and grandma at risk along with other vulnerable seniors by placing COVID-19 patients into long-term care facilities alongside uninfected residents. This was a poor decision made by the governor alone, without any legislative input.
What makes an already frustrating situation worse is that the governor has refused to put an end to this harmful order, even though there are plenty of other safer options for caring for people infected with COVID-19. Michigan was one of just five states to implement a policy housing contagious patients inside nursing homes. The governors of each of these other states saw the consequences of the order early on and put a stop to it. But not Gov. Whitmer.
It’s confusing and hypocritical how Gov. Whitmer claims to want to slow the spread of the virus to protect Michigan residents, yet sees no fault whatsoever in putting some of our most vulnerable residents at great risk every day.
Earlier this month, the Legislature approved a plan that would have reversed the dangerous policy. Gov. Whitmer vetoed it. With the stroke of her now infamous pen, the governor sent a message to Michiganders everywhere that the lives of seniors – our parents, grandparents, and other loved ones – are not worth protecting.
Our plan, which received bipartisan support, would have protected nursing home residents by prohibiting the placement of individuals with COVID-19 in any long-term care facility unless there was a separate dedicated building where infected patients could be properly quarantined and cared for. In addition, the plan would have required state regulators to complete an evaluation and report of the current policies regarding COVID-19 patients and nursing homes by Aug. 15.
This is an issue that hits close to home. I am deeply troubled that the governor will not compromise with the Legislature. The lives of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents should not be used as political pawns. Our seniors deserve much better. I will continue to look for ways to support seniors and keep our elderly loved ones safe as we combat this pandemic.
State Rep. Joe Bellino and a group of House Republican lawmakers this week announced a plan aimed at giving the people of Michigan more certainty and control by allowing for data-driven COVID-19 responses that reflect conditions in local communities.
Since Michigan students were sent home at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the question arose: What would fall look like for our schools? What would students and teachers face in a new academic year? It was a question in Michigan and all across the country.
“This was a major step in the right direction for Michiganders throughout the state,” Bellino said. “My colleagues and I stand ready to work with the governor in the best interests of our families, from Wayne and Monroe counties all the way to the Upper Peninsula. We are strong here in Michigan, and we will get through the rest of this pandemic together.”
State Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, today joined his colleagues in approving a bipartisan plan for the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 K-12 budget – one that won’t raise taxes or grow state government.